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Ecuador

Cotopaxi – a rare sighting!

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Everyone, say hello to Cotopaxi, an active volcano in Ecuador located just south of Quito. Cotopaxi enjoys spending its days surrounded by clouds, being climbed by hikers and bikers alike, and posing for photos. It is the second highest summit in Ecuador and stands at an elevation of approx. 20,000ft. Hi Cotopaxi!

Charming, really. This is one volcano that likes to keep a shroud of mystery about it. The day I arrived was the first day in weeks (the inn-owner said) it had been clear to see Cotopaxi. The days following were also dreary and gray and the massive peak was not visible. Suffice it to say, I was really really lucky to grab this shot. I only stayed for the one night. Then it was off to somewhere else. However, the glimpse of this volcano was something magical. Ecuador, with it’s elevation changes and volcanos and well basically everything is beautiful, is a completely different landscape and is SO big, it’s engulfing. You can’t help but feel so small and as if you could just be swallowed by the scale of things there.

I stayed at the Rondador Cotopaxi hostel/inn/hotel. It’s right off the main highway and on the road leading into to one of the entrances to Cotopaxi. I was the only one there! The owners, Jenny and her husband were so nice, and the food they made was incredible. I quickly became obsessed with a soup called locro de papas, a popular potato soup in Ecuador. All the food in Ecuador was incredible actually. Everything was fresh and homemade and in most cases, made by the owners. You could most definitely taste the difference. Also, everyone has fireplaces, and most importantly, they use them! They are not gas, real wood fireplaces, real wood fires. I could live there if I didn’t feel like an invader in the country.

Puerto Rico

Thanks for the Jeep!

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A Jeep is a beautiful thing. Oh the places we’ll go! On a recent trip to Puerto Rico, I rented an economy car, but the company was all out. The only thing they had left was a Jeep. The employee working at the counter asked me if that was okay and I gave him a big smile and said hell yes!! I was accompanied by someone born and raised in PR, so this was even better news.

Which is how we came to this place in the photo. Off road, sunrise, beach, no people, perfect sand, perfect weather, I had arrived at everything and nothing all at once. Well, except for the destruction that lay over the hill of sand and palm trees I am looking at in the photo from Maria. There will be many more photos from this place, but this was the first after landing and never having been to the Caribbean before (as a 27 year old), I was speechless.

Chicago

Street Photography in Chicago

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Street photography is typically an individual endeavor. One person, one camera, and the streets. That’s it. But what happens when you get a bunch of people together who are all crazy about street photography in the same place and go on a walk?

Well, in this man’s case, we got a lot of laughs. Our group stopped at this giant window which created amazing reflections of the Chicago downtown area. He was watching all of us from inside this pizza restaurant and started smiling, in which case, someone, of course!, took his photo, then another, then another, then another. They were all waving and smiling at him and he just couldn’t help but give off this amazing sheepish grin. I was in the back watching this. He was a good sport. It was like paparazzi! After everyone had moved on, I just waved, smiled, gave him a thumbs up question mark, he shrugged, laughing and of course, I then snapped one for the road.

The movement of a group of photographers who get together in the city for a photo walk is quite like that of a flock of small sparrows that are flying through the air together. They look like a dark cloud and move with smooth inertia. Usually one person veers right or left, and then the group follows, then the other way, then straight, then down alleys and crossing streets. It’s quite enough to keep up and not lose the group and also be concentrating on photos as well! And this is why street photography is best alone, but just plain fun together.

CaliforniaPlacesUSA

Observing Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, a city with a vibe that won’t be found elsewhere. And a smog that could be found elsewhere. I loved L.A. There is a lot to like and a lot not to like. A place that I liked was the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park. Although it’s far from Downtown, you can still see the skyline and it’s in a beautiful park. The hills of L.A. are so California – to a girl from the East Coast, they are unique. I understand why they call them hills. It’s so nice to have that varied elevation rather than everything being flat and a million miles away you start to get some real change in height. It’s probably something banal to locals or people from Cali, but the landscape is so beautiful to me. Even though I couldn’t see the sun because of the smog/fog, I always felt like I was being hugged by the sun – although at a nice comfortable earthly temperature. No wonder people like living here.

CaliforniaPlacesUSA

Santa Monica Pier

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Santa Monica Pier. I had just driven from the Grand Canyon to here and I had never been west before! I made it to 25 years old without having been past Mississippi. So I finally got myself here. And I totally dig it. I LOVE the west. It’s so different from the East, but in a really good way. Everything felt more laid back. This could have been because I was on vacation though. Regardless, it felt like people were going on a difference pace. Not racing to get everywhere.

Santa Monica Pier is definitely touristy – definitely kitchy – if that is even a word. Rides, greasy food, caricature artists. It’s interesting. I also lost track of how many people I saw lining up to take their picture next to the Route 66 END sign pole. I was one of them, with pride!! I don’t care if I “look” like a tourist. That’s what I was/am. 🙂

CaliforniaUSA

Santa Monica Beach

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Santa Monica beach – I was surprised to see that it wasn’t packed. It wasn’t too busy. This photo seems empty to me, even though there are a lot of people in it. You should see Hampton Beach during the summer on a weekend – now THAT is packed. Here, it was delightfully….less. Of course, maybe the cloudy/foggy feeling had something to do with it. Now the boardwalk was a different story – but that’s for another day! This photo was actually taken from the Boardwalk looking down at the beach.

Santa Monica Pier is the end of Route 66. I had this funny feeling – like I had “made it”. Whatever that means. What did I make? The journey? This was my first glance at the pacific ocean, my first time in California. I drove straight to Santa Monica Pier from the Grand Canyon. Then after, checked into the lodgings and explored L.A. But this was the first stop. It was both different and a little of the same as the East Coast. Different vibes, different coast line, different beach-goers. But the same sand, same touristy pier/boardwalk with rides and vendors, fast food, greasy food, etc. Definitely more surfers though. And the water was definitely warmer than New England’s chilly Gulf of Maine. Brrr!

ArizonaPhotographyPlacesTravelUSA

Waking on the edge of the Grand Canyon

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This is a pretty amazing memory, one I could never forget about, even if I tried. Camping on the edge of the grand canyon and waking up for the sunrise. A spectacular sunrise!

There was a fire the night before, and because not enough warm things were brought, there was a second fire…around midnight. Everything was incredibly dry, so unlike my native New England, where all seems to be perpetually wet, things started crackling in a hot second. pun intended. The trees nearby were wet down as there was fear of lighting the whole grand canyon on fire – that would not be cool. That didn’t happen, but you can never be too safe…with fire…and trees.

So, due to lack of sleep as it was so frigid and excitement to see the show of the morning, I walked over to the edge at the cusp of dawn and waited to greet the most beautiful galactic being of which humans are aware (to date!). There was something so magical about that feeling, sitting on what seemed like the edge of the world, watching the colors come alive around the canyon little by little until it was like a full blown bonfire. As the sun peeked over the horizon, the rock that line the canyon walls started to glow. The jagged ridges of the canyon casted shadows over the lower bits but themselves shone in pure glorious sunshine. The sky was a perfect mix or all different shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, magenta. It was ethereal. And no one else was there…

No photographers, no hikers.

No line of tripods. Just us. I had a friend who came with me and brought his ukulele and played a few things as we watched the sun rise. Talk about a moment. He handed the mini guitar to me and I plucked a few strings before giving it back and proceeding to take a few pictures.

I wasn’t sure if I was on earth at that point or in some sort of dream dimension. That place, at that time, we were part of the landscape, part of the spectacle. We were the sun, the rocks, the winds. I experienced everything as it was in the moment. I heard this quote recently…

Some people go to church and think about fishing…others go fishing and think of God

Well, this moment, I was thinking about that, the universe, all those things. I felt more connected to a spirituality in that moment than I ever did at church. I think I could adapt that quote into something about photography or camping/hiking. After all, fishing is quite like photography in a way. They can both be meditative and peaceful, a way to relax and be in nature. Photos don’t bother fish though…but fishing doesn’t involve electronics…I think the answer here is – shoot film! Anyways, here are some pretty pictures now…

grand canyon, sunrise, fujifilm, x100T

grand canyon sunrise fujifilm x100t

Rocks on fire!

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path to the edge at dawn

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Always gotta have a fire circle 🙂

Cheers,

Molly

ChicagoPlacesUSA

Surprising Spontaneity

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Today is about spontaneity. I love people. Good people. 🙂 I love open people, you know those folks that smile at you as you walk by on the streets and say “hi” or “have a good day”? They have their heart open to the streets, to the world, to others. They go with the ebb and flow of spontaneous interactions. They make your day. Their energy is contagious and they can instantaneously change your mood with a smile or a laugh or a simple nod and gesture. This woman is one of those people. She rocks. She also knows how to dress and to pose – I love that outfit! and that smile!

There’s a place and time for “street photography”. I’m not one of those people that goes around sticking a flash in others faces or using a zoom lens, or even a 50mm lens to get superficially close to others to steal a moment of their life to keep for myself and others I share it with. I like to stay covert or respectful. I ask with a smile or wave. I like to go with the flow and not force anything, to enjoy the present and the atmosphere, the streets, and then when the moment presents itself, I am ready and fluid. This was one of those moments. Street photography is not a hunt. It’s a walk in the woods to nowhere, the purpose of which is to simply take in all the trees and birds, squirrels, stumps and roots, etc.

Photography

Spicing up the Subway

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Welcome to the Boston Subway aka the MBTA or just the “T”…infamous…squeaky…shaky…and expensive. But it’ll do right? The buses are in a bit better shape because a few new ones were placed in service last year or the year before. Fancy hybrid ones. The actual subway however? Nope nada. The focus is more on extending the lines further outside the city where people might actually be able to afford a place to live rather than improving the lines they already have. And improvement, they need. But that’s fine – they’ll just keep building those new “luxury” apartment villages right behind one of the biggest electrical grid near the city and onward so folks can feel a sense of connection to the city. They still have to have a 30min ride in – depending on where you get off.

This photo is from one of the red line stations north of Harvard. It’s either most definitely Porter or Davis. I can’t believe I actually forget! I’ve been on those lines so much in the last few years. Anyways, each of the stations have their own unique architecture or designs and this is an example of one of them. Pretty neat right? Even if you feel like you are riding the escalator the long way to hell. 🙂 It’s sooo long you could probably have time for a lunch or a nap!

Bostonian tip – no one calls it the MBTA – just say the “T” and you won’t get any confused looks.

ChicagoPlacesUSA

Buddy Guy Legends & Legacies

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Buddy Guy is a legend of blues music. He’s right up there with John Lee Hooker, BB King, Howlin Wolf, etc. But I don’t want to talk about Buddy Guy today. Today, I want to talk about his daughter!

The man’s daughter followed in her father’s footsteps. I mean, with a voice like hers, how can you not? She has her own band called NuBlu. I’m talking about Carlise, because he has more than one daughter. Anyways, she and her band were performing the night I decided to catch a late show on my trip to Chicago, AND let me tell you, it was one of the best live performances in my life! That’s where this photo comes from. Her guitar player rocked it. She rocked it. They all rocked it. And IT was the house and it was shaking. Until they had to do the dishes and mop the floors and we (as in the crowd) sadly had to let them…

Photography

A Twisted Tale of Turns and Twigs

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Turns and curves in nature – I just wanted to post this for the title. 🙂 But in all seriousness – how insane is this tree? Nature never disappoints with its unique and strange, just as much as with its symmetry and consistency. It is an infinite-edged spectacle. And I stand in awe, and try to keep my jaw from falling open all the time. Nature is the only pure cure we have. All else is shallow. Get thee to the forest! There is much healing that can be had just being surrounded by the beauty of life – of healthy eco systems (if they even truly exist anymore as we have ruined almost every corner of our planet).

I always think of this tree as having a personality, I would imagine it as a dancer, twisting and bending in the sun’s glory, making a poem in pure joy from basking in such splendor. 🙂

San Francisco

The Sorting Hat in San Fran

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The sorting hat has come to San Francisco! Discovered in an arcade of a time well past…a collection of relics…mechanical brilliance for the period in which they were constructed. Whimsical machines and toys whirl around to delight the eyes of modern citizens! To delight the eye and puzzle the mind. To ponder upon the difference between the whimsy and creativity of the early twentieth century to the commercialism of the early twenty first arcading. How did we get here? from there? and where’s my whiskey?

But more importantly – which house do you think he wants to be placed in?!

When it’s my turn – I’m thinking Gryffindor! (duh)

BostonThoughts

A Little Pinch of Magic Aurora Dust

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Let’s get this out of the way first – Aurora is magical.

Now – Hello! I love mornings so damn much. Everything is so fresh and nothing has been tired of – yet. The coffee is hot and delicious. Yes, I fully admit to being a coffee addict. Black only ever though. None of that sugary or milky stuff will ever touch the hallowed liquid that is pure rich dark black coffee. Won’t do it. If you ever see me adding anything to my coffee, I need to be rescued from whatever space cell the aliens are holding my real self in.

So this photo was taken on the Boston harbor at sunset. If you have ever been down here, especially on the weekends, you know that photographers line up (in good weather of course) along the fan pier with their enormous tripods and become ill at east with you if you try to find a spot that’s not in their frame. But it’s always in their frame!! Is that a fish-eye lens my friend?! (This is what photoshop is for)

This is a classic Boston skyline shot and it’s a bit overshot, but I LOVE it. I love sitting at the tables next to the Daily Catch restaurant, watching people each expensive seafood, watching the sunset cruises come and go, and watching the photographers take the same long exposure over and over again from the same spot – all night! I used to work around this area for four years and would come, eat lunch here and take walk breaks here. There have been a lot of changes in the seaport (because we are technically in the seaport here) and where this area was not particularly highly trafficked – even just five years ago – now it’s insane. All the new luxury apartment buildings have been finished, the new office buildings have been completed. There are more going up, but a lot of them that weren’t there just five years ago are now live and active. There’s also a relatively new luxury hotel with a roof deck that people LOVE to party at. I miss the almost desolation of the seaport, I miss the historical chapel they tore down, and I miss walking across the footbridge only being met with runners and people that worked at the Trade Center. But it’s “progress” right?

ANYWAYS – I really wanted to talk about how I edited this photo. I used Aurora – the new one that just came out in October. I LOVE it. It’s so much faster. I had it before and it used to crawl on my computer so I stopped using it. I don’t have a lot of patience sitting around and doing nothing. I must always do something! But I couldn’t even use my internet browser at the same time. THAT has most definitely changed. Not only can I used both at the same time now, the load time for a photo/set of photos is amazingly fast compared to the old one. Also, it really is spectacular the improvements they made to the fundamental HDR image the software processes upon upload. There are hardly ever any ghosting, noise, or all that other funky stuff you get when you merge photos or try to create HDR from a single RAW image. It’s like magic!!

Which is why I say I sprinkled this photo with some magic Aurora dust. BTW I created my own preset but the software has some already in there for you to try out. Also – I didn’t get paid anything to say this 🙂 I’ll most more Aurora photos soon!

Cheers!

Molly Kate

NashvillePlaces

Nashville – Tennesee

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Nashville. There is something exciting about going to a place that is nothing like the one in which you live. A place that is new and different than your day to day. That’s why people (including me) fantasize about travel. It’s like a new romance. You find out about the destination of your desire and you like it. The photos online are beautiful. You hear good things about it from others and it sounds even better and you get more excited. The plan is made to go and discover it for yourself. You prepare and think about how your trip will be constantly. Then you actually go and it’s so new and fresh for you, it’s exciting. You are most likely on vacation so you don’t have any worries of your daily responsibilities. You can afford it. It’s like the fall winds or spring flowers. You take photos for memories. Then once you leave, you remember the good times, the beautiful things. That is, of course, if everything goes well.

Even though the US is one country, albeit seemingly never united, if you travel just 6-8 hours, the culture can be so different. Each state is different, each quadrant or section is different. The Northeast is a completely different beast than the south or the west, for better or worst.

To be honest, I tire of the culture in Massachusetts very quickly. My family is here and my current job is here, but that’s pretty much the only allegiance I have. The winters are harsh and cold, summers hot and humid, the culture is rough, hurried, and overcrowded. There are not a lot of parks or natural spaces, no mountains, beaches are polluted and way overcrowded. The traffic is terrible. If someone was planning to move here, I would tell them to run away very fast. Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine are lovely. I am not referring to them here.

Anyways, I digress.

I crave a friendlier, warmer people. People like me, who smile at you on the street and say hi when you pass each other, and don’t just stare at the space behind you as if you don’t exist. This is why I took a trip to Nashville and New Orleans to discover if it was true what people say about southern states and their hospitality. Or friendliness.

Nashville first 🙂

It was as they say! Mostly everyone was so friendly and I didn’t spend my time in the touristy areas, so it’s not like they had to be or were other fellow excited tourists. Nobody treated me like I had a disease, which is sometimes how I feel in Massachusetts.

There is a mass exodus into this city, so it may change the culture. It happens in cities. It happened in Boston. For good or bad.

I usually find myself in back alley, smoke-filled, rough and real places, bars and dusty pool halls, with normal people. Not tourists, not yuppies or hipsters, just normal people. Like Rudy – who evidently works at M&M Oil? I’m not sure that’s a real place, or even if his name is really Rudy… 🙂 I think you end up in what you attract and I must attract this sort of raw unpretentious atmosphere, with good music of course.

The only bar I enjoyed in the touristy area of downtown Nashville (Broadway) was Robert’s Western World and that band that was playing there in the early afternoon. They were fantastic and older and played really good music, not this “bro-country” shit that was in every other bar on Broadway.

Just a few thoughts on my trip to Nashville, check back for more!

ChicagoPlacesUSA

A Weekend in Chicago

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Somewhere on Sunday – Chicago!

Isn’t it fun to travel? To seek out new places, explore new streets, new landscapes, new mountains! To always keep expanding your body and mind with knowledge, experiences, memories, places, fresh sensations and sounds, rather than with objects. How can you expand your mind with a new piece of jewelry, video game, shirt, lamp, phone, or whatever else people might by when they spend their whole weekend in Target rather than in a good book, or a good hike. Is that receipt from TJ Maxx really as rewarding as the view from the top of a mountain after a four hour hike, or the satisfying happy belly feeling after taking your time with a delicious dinner with a friend? I don’t think so.

Go somewhere new today. Go walking.

If it’s cold or raining, or even sunny but you want to relax inside before going for a walk, come to Chicago with me 🙂 I promise it won’t be dull. Of course, I believe being dull or boring or being bored is a choice. People only get bored if they are boring. Interesting people are interesting because of their interests (of which they have many) and don’t get bored. Boring people are boring because they have no interests. I digress….

Back to the topic at hand!

Chicago, oh chicago! How you spoiled me with your impressive architecture, your classic streets, your characters! How I am grateful to have basked in your summers and not realize the rumors of your windy chilly winters.

In this city, I walked and walked and walked, and walked until my legs couldn’t hold me anymore. I didn’t sleep. I drank a few coffees. I danced. I made some friends and met the love of my life. It was a dream. It was magical.

This will always be a special place. That is the magic of traveling if you focus on the experience and memories and say yes more than you say no. I didn’t spend a lot of money. I went alone. I didn’t stay alone for long, but also didn’t mind being alone when I was. I LOVE being alone 🙂  Especially with my camera! Lose the fear and you gain much.

The ballet school was playing in the fountain. They were gracious enough to allow a crowd of photographers to take their photograph, many photographs, including mine. I wonder if they thought we were crazy or odd or cool. I couldn’t tell…

I couldn’t leave without getting a shot of this one, now could I? A tad blurry as it may be…

Going out into the world alone opens you up to so much. To people, to experiences – you are not compromising for another person’s trajectory. You are exploring your own interests. It’s not selfishness, no matter how some might see it. Selfishness only seems to have an impact only when traveling with others. It is when we relate ourselves to others that we find a self and an other and some of the time conflicting interests. Being just us – there is no self, there is no other, we are the other and self at the same time. Thoughts to be reviewed for another article… 🙂

Anyways, have a happy Sunday 🙂

Molly